fix or replace my ethernet?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by gbenson, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. gbenson macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2006
    Howdy, I'm happy I found this forum!

    I've been putting off fixing my Mac for a while and it's time to do something. It's a desktop G4 single 450Mhz. I can't get the built-in ethernet plug to make a connection for longer than a few seconds. I can get internet when I hold the plug into the socket a certain way, then I lose it.

    basically, it's busted. I don't know how to go about fixing it, or what to replace it with. I searched some old threads here and people talk about airport cards, which would be nice to get wireless, but is that something I could install myself? What about usb or firewire cards- are they slower than the built-in one? Thanks in advance....
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    First of all, a couple questions that might save you some hassle:

    1) Have you tried a different cable? Occasionally one cable will make a more solid connection than another if a port is questionable, especially if it works if you hold it in place, so you know the electronics are fine. Definitely worth a shot.

    2) If you peek into the port, you may notice that the metal pins in there have gotten sort of squashed down. I've seen this happen before. You can get something like a very thin flathead screwdriver (or better yet, something sharp and plastic), power down the computer, and try to pry them up so they're sitting higher up. That might let the cable make a better connection.

    Otherwise, you've got three options:

    1) Airport card. This also requires a wireless router, and it's easy to install, but the problem is that original Airport cards compatible with your Mac are rather pricey these days, since Apple hasn't made them in a long time, so you're going to end up paying WAY more than it's probably worth.

    2) As an alternate, there are a few PCI wireless cards that apparently work without any drivers with a Mac. Look on was discussion of what works recently.

    3) The cheapest option is to just buy a PCI Ethernet card. You want to make sure to get one compatible with your Mac (again, is a good place to check for info), but it probably won't cost more than $20 or so.

    I'm not sure why you mentioned a USB/FireWire card; you already have both. If that was a seperate question, then yes, a USB 2 card (which you can probably buy for $10 or so) will run drastically faster than the built-in USB if you have a USB2 device (like a new iPod) or hard drive. Probably a worthwhile investment, given the low price and speed boost if you end up with a new iPod, scanner, or thumbdrive.

    Firewire, probably not. A FireWire 400 card would be identical to the built-in. A FireWire800 card is twice as fast as FireWire 400 (which is what you have), but it's not really necessary unless you want a FireWire 800 external hard because you really need the extra speed. If that's the case you're probably going to do a lot better to get an external (or internal) SATA card, though.
  3. gbenson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2006

    as for fixing it:

    option 1 is out, because I'm using the cable fine on my wife's PC right now
    option 2 is a possibility. I tried cleaning the pins with a q-tip and alcohol, but no luck.

    as for replacing:

    option 1 might still be OK, since I'm used to paying way to much for guitar gear that I MUST have :)

    options 2 and 3: what I don't understand is that I opened up the side of the tower and I see the ethernet plug soldered to the motherboard (or whatever the big green PCB is called). I don't see an actual card like the pictures of ethernet cards for sale in eBay auctions. does that make sense? In other words, if I bought a regular or wireless card, where would it go?

    and finally, I wasn't clear in my post. I didn't mean usb and firewire cards, just peripherals.

    thanks again
  4. slooksterPSV macrumors 68040


    Apr 17, 2004
    Here's how you make a cat5 cable:
    1 - buy the tools - somewhere around $50 - $100 depending on what brands, types, or what you get.
    2 - Now take the cable and cut off about 3 - 5 inches of the casing - not the whole wire, but the casing, pull apart slowly when taking it off so you don't break or pull out the wires too far.
    3 - Now take each wire of the 8 (make sure you don't break them) and straighten them out and put it in the order of... what is it...
    white orange, orange, white green, blue, white blue, green, white brown, brown
    4 - Now cut those wires down to about an inch or so making sure they don't untwist or get out of order.
    5 - Get one of the end pieces - the connectors) make sure the wires go in and touch the metal at the end, you have to make sure all the wires are touching the metal at the end (its copper I think) otherwise it won't work. Yes you need to have some of the casing in.
    6 - Once you're sure you got it, get the crimper tool and make sure its pushed all the way in, push the connector in and squeeze tight.
    7 - Test - Look at this site, it gives better instructions.
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Just because it works on one computer doesn't mean it'll work on another--some ports are more forgiving of loose cables than others, or vice versa (cable could be fine, but a different one might make up for a loose port). A decent CAT5 cable only costs a dollar or two via mailorder (check have bargains all the time), or a little more at a store. Either way, at worst you have an extra perfectly good cable, which never hurts.

    Case in point: My G5's ethernet port doesn't like certain cables. They work fine, but if I don't give them a good shove in, they don't maintain a connection. If they get tugged away from the computer, they stop working until pushed in again. Other cables work perfectly regardless of what I do.

    As for the fix, I'd give it a shot. Since it works when you push in the cable, it's probably not dirt (though trying to clean it was a good idea), but bending the pins up a little might well help.

    Your motherboard has built-in ethernet, but you would be "replacing" it (really "superceeding it") with a PCI card. That is, you would leave the motherboard Ethernet as is (you have to) and add a second port, which you would then use.

    You see the white slots over by where your graphics card is plugged in? There should be two or three of them sitting there open. Those are PCI slots, and where you would install a PCI Ethernet card or Wireless card. More or less just shut the computer down, take out the screw, take out the blank cover plate, push in the card, and replace the screw.

    If you bought an Apple Airport card (original only--NOT the Extreme ones), there's a slot in there somewhere (don't remember where, but your manual will show it) that it fits in, and a little cloth-covered antenna cable you plug into it (the actual antenna is integrated into the case).

    A PCI wireless card would probably have a little T-shaped antenna sticking out the back.
  6. gbenson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2006
    very helpful. I'll try and bend the pins up first, then try the other cable we just got.

    If not, the card install seems simple. I understand it now.
    thanks again!

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